Governor Kay Ivey has proposed a $4.1 million increase in state funding for Troy University, potentially offering relief from rising tuition costs, according to Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr.
“The last 10 years was a lost decade for higher education funding in Alabama,” Hawkins said. “I’m delighted growth in the economy may result in increased state support for our public colleges and universities for the year ahead.
“While short of 2008 funding, it is a step in the right direction and may provide some relief as we review the need for a tuition increase for the coming year.”
In 2008, Troy received $62.5 million from the state, but in 2011, it received only $43.7 million. Since then, the state appropriation has risen annually and could reach $55.7 million in 2020.
Although the state appropriation is only a fraction of the university’s budget ($200.9 million in 2016, $193.2 million in 2017 and $196.8 million in 2018), a $4.1 million increase could lessen the strain on students’ tuition.
Tuition rose $15 per credit hour for undergraduate students in the 2017-2018 academic year and $9 for 2018-2019 to a total of $325 per credit hour. A $100 student facility fee was also added in 2017 and still stands.
The tuition increase resulted in a $3.1 million increase in revenue for the school from 2017 to 2018 ($114.2 million in 2017 to $117.3 million in 2018), meaning students could see a year without a tuition increase if the $4.1 million increase from the state passes legislature.
Marcus Paramore, the director of government relations for Troy, explained that the proposal is not law, however. Each year, the governor proposes a budget to the Alabama Legislature. The House of Representatives and Senate are responsible for creating the final budget and do not have to follow the governor’s proposal.
“It helps that the governor’s recommendation, when it first comes out, is very positive,” he said. “If that number was in our opinion negative, it would be a lot harder to get added to.”
Paramore further explained that some of the best years for higher education funding have been when the legislature agreed to the governor’s proposal.
“That happens more than not on the higher ed piece of things,” Paramore said.
The Senate is taking the first look at the budget this year and will form a budget committee that will begin meeting within the next two weeks. Once the committee forms a budget, it must be voted on in the Senate.
After the budget is passed in the Senate, the House of Representatives must pass it as well before it becomes official. If the House does not approve of the budget, a separate committee will work to combine the budgets proposed by the Senate and House.
Once the budget is passed by both the Senate and House, Troy can receive its appropriated money.
“We will see some highs and lows within this budget,” Paramore said. “The budget number is still very fluid at this point.
“Fortunately, I think, in the next four years, you will see a legislature and a governor that are on the same page a lot. In other words, they’ve probably talked about this process and how they wanted to do things before they just threw it out there.”
According to Paramore, a budget should pass the Senate by June.
The Troy University Board of Trustees traditionally meets on the day of graduation in the spring and often discusses tuition increases during this meeting.